Chair: John Levine, PhD
The goal of the Social Program is to prepare students to make significant empirical and theoretical contributions to social psychology. During their training, students:
- Gain a thorough knowledge of past and current work in social psychology
- Acquire methodological and statistical skills necessary for conducting sound research
- Obtain experience in publishing scientific papers and presenting talks at professional meetings
- Become sensitive to ethical issues associated with conducting psychological research
- Gain familiarity with work in the broader field of psychology and other disciplines relevant to their interests
To achieve these training goals, students become involved in research during their first semester in graduate school and continue this involvement over the course of their graduate careers. Students work closely with a primary advisor on projects of mutual interest but are encouraged to collaborate with other faculty members and graduate students. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for conducting studies on a wide range of social psychological phenomena.
Several sources of financial support for students are available, including research assistantships, fellowships, and teaching assistantships.
A notable feature of the program is its representation of research across diverse areas of study, including close relationships, diversity and intergroup relations, small group processes, social cognition, motivation, social affective neuroscience, conflict resolution, self and social identity, personality disorders, and alcohol use in social contexts. Below is a list of the social program’s core research training faculty, with a brief description of each faculty member’s current interests:
Kevin Binning focuses on how to understand how people experience and overcome threats to their sense of personal adequacy. By understanding and targeting factors that predict how people respond to such threats in real-world settings, his work seeks to develop social psychological insights that can help people and society realize their full potential.
Sophia Choukas-Bradley’s research focuses on adolescents and young adults. She is interested in understanding the influences of gender, peers, and social media on body image, sexual behavior, and mental health. Several of her current studies focus on LGBTQ youth. She has appointments in the Social, Developmental, and Clinical areas.
Amanda Forest investigates communication and relationship maintenance processes, with an emphasis on emotional expressivity, self-disclosure, support-seeking, and support provision/responsiveness (in romantic relationships, friendships/new acquaintanceships, and through social media).
Tristen Inagaki focuses on understanding how social connection leads to health with an emphasis on neurobiological mechanisms.
John Levine investigates several aspects of small group processes, including team performance, newcomer innovation, and reaction to deviance. He is also studying how disagreement/argumentation affects learning and how emotional expression influences reaction to stressful events. Finally, he is investigating social support in online cancer support groups.
Edward Orehek investigates social life and motivation. He has developed a people-as-means theoretical perspective, which he is using to develop new approaches to understanding goal pursuit, interpersonal relationships, and well-being.
Michael Sayette investigates psychological theories of alcohol use and abuse. Cigarette craving. Application of social, cognitive, and affective science to the study of addiction. (Primary appointments in clinical and bio-health programs)
Karina Schumann investigates the psychological experience of harming others and being harmed by others, with a focus on the predictors and consequences of various responses to these acts of harm (including apologies, defensiveness, forgiveness, revenge, and empathy).
Aidan Wright studies the ways in which personality and psychopathology connect, using structural, longitudinal, and intensive repeated measurement designs. He is also involved in the development and application of novel assessment and statistical modeling techniques to further these aims.
The Social Program affords students the opportunity to explore many of the above research areas in ways that are tailored to their own particular interests. Overall, the program is dedicated to conducting high-quality research aimed at understanding how people perceive, relate to, and are influenced by their social worlds.